Day 60 – Sunday 04 March 2012, Siem Reap – Tonle Sap lake and Kompong Phhluk
Today was a day off from temples and walking around in the heat, with a planned visit to the stilt village of Kompon Phhluk and the floating villages on Tonle Sap lake. Again we were paying for a tuk tuk to take us there, I am sure we could find other transport and probably cheaper, but it is still a reasonable price at $15 for both of us for about two half hours of tuk tuking. The accommodation and food maybe cheap but we are making up for it with tours !
The tuk tuk was again waiting for us at the arranged time of 8.00 am, we hadn’t managed to get breakfast so we grabbed a few things from a local bakery and set off on the hour or so journey to Tonle Sap lake. I took a whole load of photos on the way there and back and have posted them separately.
After pounding down a rough dirt road and through a local village we arrived at the ticket office for the boats, we were pretty disappointed to hear it was $20 USD EACH for the boat ride, I was expecting maybe $20 for the boat, there was no haggling and this was the only way so we stumped up with the cash. Life out here is pretty tough, with nothing we take for granted in the cities. Though being close to the lake means there is a lot of water for irrigating vegetable gardens and rice paddies and there is a lot of fish caught and eaten. I am hoping some of my money goes to the local people.
From the ticket office we had a further ten tough minutes in the tuk tuk to the river side where we got on our dungy old boat for the tour. The driver was not exactly forth coming with information about what we saw, and the boat was so loud it would have been a fruitless monologue if he had tried!
The village is all on stilts and not just a few feet off the ground either, these are all 7 or 8 metres high, designed to protect the village during the rainy season – if obviously rains a lot here. In fact most of the area surrounding here is a vast flood plain, arid during the dry season and flooded during the wet, with very little in between. We spent about fifteen minutes cruising up the river and through the village, the villagers totally ignored us, a couple of the kids waived, but largely they must be sick of the hundreds of tourists that come through every day.
After the village we motored up stream for a few minutes to the edge of Tonle Sap lake and the mandatory stop at a cafe where we had coffee and fruit. We were offered an additional canoe ride through a flooded forest for another $10 but declined as the faces of the people who were doing it read “boring” ! Plus I get sick of being upsold things all the time, it was worth maybe $2… The boat boy had a wee wash while we had coffee.
I was really disappointed when we got to the lake as the floating villages were not there, they do move around the lake a bit, so I was not utterly surprised, but this was the main reason we came. I do believe they should tell you first !! There was one floating house.After the lake we powered back up the river to the start where we got out and back into our tuk tuk for the return to Siem Reap.
I was disappointed with the day, it was the most expensive activity we have done and I feel ripped off. We had no information on what we were seeing and the floating village was not there. The village on stilts was amazing so I am glad I came but….
Once back in town and clean from all the dust we had lunch at the Purple Elephant Thai restaurant. This was the place run by Sam who I met last night. I had a vege dish (name eludes me now) that I have not tried before and a mango shake. The food was excellent ! and my meal cost $2 including drink. I really wonder how people make money, will go back there for lunch tomorrow as well.
After lunch I finally dragged my sorry arse to a barber and got a haircut, I am 99% sure he spoke no English, but luckily short hair is short hair and he did a good job. He offered me a shave as well so I took the opportunity to get my first straight razor shave ever, and yes I did have thoughts of Sweeny Todd!! He also offered me the chance to visit the massage parlour upstairs, which I declined : )
We did not do much else for the rest of the day, so I got to blog yesterdays temple visits and then back to the five suns for dinner, though I did go for a burger rather than Cambodian food as they looked very good.
Tomorrow we visit Bayon, I am so excited !!!